What’s wrong with the IITs?

October 20th, 2011

The IITs and IIMs are every government’s darling. So it is understandable when a politician such as Mr Jairam Ramesh, an IIT alumnus, for no apparent reason, declares that IITs have world-class students but not world-class teachers.

What comes as a surprise though is when figures like Mr N R Narayana Murthy say the quality of IIT students is sub-standard.

Coming from someone from an industry that knows the pulse of engineering institutes, it is rather disappointing to hear Mr Murthy’s comments. Specially, after knowing how the education sector has suffered at the hands of our revered politicians.

And what are we talking about. Isn’t it true that for the majority of students, an IIT degree is all about getting a big fat pay cheque from an MNC bank or consulting firm? So where does being a “quality engineer” come into play?

Can we explain why 80 per cent of IITians go to IIMs? Why don’t they pursue their masters degree and seek a career in teaching or research?

Also, why do most recruiters go gaga over these not-so-good engineers or managers?

Or better still, why don’t majority of IITians opt to work for Mr Murthy’s company and prefer going to companies like Google instead?

The state that our IITs and IIMs are in today is largely because of the our politicians and their policies.

Can institutes which seek every penny from the government and its permission even to spend it, be expected to compete internationally?

Why do people not question various governments and their MHRD ministers who have always considered it their right to meddle into the business of these institutes (introducing SC/ST and OBC quotas for instance). Stifling their growth.

Can some one explain why a decade old institute like an Indian School of Business finds its place in international rankings but the 50 year old IIMs can’t?

Why the IITs have been slipping the international rankings and today none of them figure in the top 200 engineering schools in the world?

The IIT directors will tell you that most students who can afford to pay better, never come to the IITs. They go international.

Quality is a good word but not thought of when it was decided to admit one half of IIT students via reservation through SC/ST and OBCs; when the student teacher ratio deteriorates from 6:1 to 12:1 and when there are no teachers to teach and still new IITs are set up (taking the numbers from 6 to 15).

Take any corporate czar and you know his children are studying at the prestigious Ivy leagues. Why can’t they study at an IIT or an IIM?

The problem with the IITs and IIMs is that every government loves them so much that they can’t let go of them. And then there are industry heads like Mr Murthy who do nothing much beyond giving public speeches on their quality.

There are hundreds of management and engineering institutes which are in a mess but no one, including the government is bothered. The AICTE gives clearance to new B-schools year after year, without considering the demand factor.

Leave the IITs and IIMs on their own, and you may see another Harvard or MIT in the making.

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